Spring has arrived in Finger Lakes Wine Country and many exciting events are starting to pop up in the region that you certainly want to add to your calendar. Although wine is a staple here, the region is home to many notable microbreweries and distilleries that use the freshest, highest quality ingredients in their products.
A microbrewery you must not miss along the eastern shore of Seneca Lake is Wagner Valley Brewing Company. The brewery, established in 1997, is part of Wagner Vineyards, one of the oldest wineries in the Finger Lakes region. Wagner Valley Brewing Company currently produces six standard brews and several specialty brews, most available by draft or bottle. In addition to their wide selection of award-winning beers, the brewery tasting room boasts an incredible view of the lake combined with a friendly and knowledgeable staff. With this combination, your craft beer experience will be unforgettable indeed.
At the brewery, a must-attend event is quickly approaching. A release party is taking place on Wednesday, April 10th from 5:30 to 10:00 pm. Wagner Valley Brewing Company’s Head Brewer, Brent Wojnowski, and Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Katie Roller, are pleased to announce the release of a new and exciting beer; a small batch of bourbon barrel aged Doppel Bock called “Fassen Bock.” What makes this beer so enticing is that it was aged for just less than 3 months in McKenzie Bourbon Barrels from Finger Lakes Distilling, right down the road.
We are fortunate to receive the inside scoop from Brent and Katie themselves. Both Brent and Katie are ecstatic over the collaborative creation of Fassen Bock. With enthusiasm, Katie stated “that’s what is so great about our community here in the Finger Lakes; we love collaborating!” She describes Brent as a very creative brewer with a plethora of ideas for more barrel-aged craft brews. Though they will not disclose any future projects, you can’t help but be intrigued. Brent revealed that his spirit of choice is bourbon or scotch, making the creation of the beer very fitting. He spoke of a visit to Finger Lakes Distilling where he asked the owners, Brian and Thomas, about purchasing some of their used bourbon barrels as barrels are traditionally used only once when aging bourbon. Back at the brewery with the his “new” used barrels in tow, Brent had an idea to fill them with Doppelbock. For him, it was a perfect way “to make something unique using essentially a byproduct of our neighbors” and did not forget to add this simple detail, “Bourbon aged beer is awesome!”
The reason for throwing the release party is simply to reach out and reconnect with neighbors and fellow industry members and to share in this new, intriguing product. There is no cost to attend the event on the 10th. Each person in attendance will receive a complimentary sample of Fassen Bock and a sample of McKenzie Bourbon. Wagner Valley Brews will be available for purchase by the flight, pint, pitcher, or growler. A variety of delicious snacks will be offered for guests to enjoy; delicious BBQ Pork Sliders on Spent Grain Rolls, made by Village Bakery, an array of cheddar cheeses from Sunset View Creamery, and some other finger foods.
Now, let’s delve into the most important component of the evening: Fassen Bock. “Fassen” is a German brewing term literally meaning “to fill a barrel”. Brent describes the bourbon barrels as adding some sweet caramel notes, a really nice toasted coconut characteristic, with a bit of a smoky finish to the Doppelbock during the 3 month aging period. The barrels, where the McKenzie Bourbon spent 5 years, are American Oak. The ABV (Alcohol by Volume) is currently being tested, but the brewery’s Sled Dog Doppelbock has an ABV of 8.5%. Brent can assume that the ABV for the Fassen Bock will be a bit higher. As it is a specialty item with higher alcohol content, it is only available in 10 oz. glasses. Katie and Brent only anticipate this small batch being available for a very limited time, so come and taste it while you can! It will be available at the brewery, also at Ithaca Coffee Co., and possibly a few other local bars that serve specialty beers, details are not yet specified.
Katie and Brent offered their recommendations for the perfect foods to enjoy with a nice, cold draft of Fassen Bock. Katie recommends pairing it with a nice aged cheddar cheese, like the 7-year aged Diamond Cheddar from Sunset View Creamery, while Brent suggests a classic, rich and smoky barbeque to accompany the beer. At the party, you will be able to taste these flavors for yourself alongside the Fassen Bock. The Fassen Bock Release Party is not one to be missed! Come and enjoy the company of your friends and neighbors while sipping the highly anticipated Fassen Bock, sampling delectable treats, and taking in the glorious landscape of Seneca Lake. It is shaping up to be a great kick-off to spring!